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The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research

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Continuing the case for free voluntary reading set out in the book's 1993 first edition, this new, updated, and much-looked-for second edition explores new research done on the topic in the last ten years as well as looking anew at some of the original research reviewed. Krashen also explores research surrounding the role of school and public libraries and the research indicating the necessity of a print-rich environment that provides light reading (comics, teen romances, magazines) as well as the best in literature to assist in educating children to read with understanding and in second language acquisition. He looks at the research surrounding reading incentive/rewards programs and specifically at the research on AR (Accelerated Reader) and other electronic reading products.

180 pages, Paperback

First published January 15, 1993

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About the author

Stephen D. Krashen

33 books124 followers
Stephen Krashen is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, who moved from the linguistics department to the faculty of the School of Education in 1994. He is a linguist, educational researcher, and activist.

Dr. Krashen has published more than 350 papers and books, contributing to the fields of second-language acquisition, bilingual education, and reading. He is credited with introducing various influential concepts and terms in the study of second-language acquisition, including the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter, and the natural order hypothesis. Most recently, Krashen promotes the use of free voluntary reading during second-language acquisition, which he says "is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second."

Dr. Krashen also holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and was the winner of the 1978 Venice Beach Open Incline Press. He spent two years in Ethiopia teaching English and science with the Peace Corps.

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5 stars
255 (42%)
4 stars
219 (36%)
3 stars
99 (16%)
2 stars
20 (3%)
1 star
8 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 91 reviews
Profile Image for Trisha.
438 reviews10 followers
April 30, 2020
Three points stick out to me from this book: 1) Reading is the key to better comprehension, grammar, spelling, writing style, and vocab; 2) Reading is more important to learning how to write well than writing practice is; and 3) light reading is intellectually, academically, and socially viable. While I'm in full agreement and excited about points 1 and 3, point 2 scares me. As a writing instructor, part of my philosophy is that to write well, one should practice writing. I've always believed reading is integral to writing, but I worry that we may swing back to old school English which placed a seriously heavy emphasis on "literature" specifically classic/canon fiction texts and poetry. What saves me from a breakdown though is that this text quite specifically states that to write academic essays, one must read academic essays; newspaper writing, newspapers; and so on.

I will definitely be reading this book again, or at least those pages I earmarked for repeat investigation. And I have written down three new ideas for my classes.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
724 reviews485 followers
November 21, 2019
Great read! I love his explanation/research as to why one shouldn't give extrinsic rewards to children/students for reading! Highly recommend!
2 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2014
The book “The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research” by Stephen Krashen absolutely blew me away. I had no idea reading for pleasure was so beneficial.

We know that learning to speak is instinctual for children, that as long as the adults around them talk to them, that language will come naturally.

Reading, on the other hand, is not quite so natural. Children need to be taught the mechanics of sounding out words, and helped along as they learn the basics. But, according to Dr. Krashen’s book, once these basics are mastered, becoming a good reader is also instinctual and natural as long as certain conditions are met.

These conditions are:

- books (or other print material) are plentiful and skill-appropriate (not too hard and not too easy)
- books and reading are loved and held in high regard

Unfortunately, over the years, watching TV and playing video games have replaced reading for pleasure as a prime pass-time in the United States. The result is that while more and more people are learning to read (99% literacy rate), fewer and fewer are learning to read well.

Hopefully this book will inspire more people to “read for pleasure” and to provide an environment for their kids that encourages a love of reading.
Profile Image for Toni.
1,374 reviews9 followers
March 8, 2012
Some great evidence for why reading is so important. Krashen highlights lots of research showing why free voluntary reading is actually the most effective way to improve reading skills, vocabulary acquisition, and writing style. He also discusses reading incentives and why they don't work.

Krashen is one of the best advocates for librarians in our role as encouraging free choice reading. Loved this book.
Profile Image for Staci.
9 reviews2 followers
November 27, 2008
I'm moving this book to my "read" list even though I didn't finish it completely. I'm giving it 3 stars only because it wasn't "easy reading"....unless you like to read textbooks with hundreds of cited studies. Krashen definitely did his research! I would say the basic premise is how important reading is, mostly FVR (free voluntary reading), basically reading on your own for pleasure and how FVR is the most effective way to increase literacy. The cited studies show that FVR improves spelling, reading comprehension, writing, test scores, etc. and is equally imprtant for children, adults and second langauge learners of all ages.
Profile Image for Ami.
1,599 reviews43 followers
October 7, 2011
Stephen D. Krashen provides a solid argument in favor of self-directed reading in the classroom. Krashen provides numerous studies to back up his claims that children who choose their own books and have ample opportunity to read them during school will see improvements in vocabulary, spelling, grammar, writing, and reading scores.
This research has been here for years. When will parents, educators, administrators, and government officials realize that to improve reading, children need to read? It's not exactly rocket science.....
Profile Image for Terry.
857 reviews37 followers
December 20, 2008
A must for teachers of Language Arts. Period. I disagree with the reviewer who found this to be text book-like: "TPR" felt like a conversation with a smart and passionate researcher, the sort who can break down big issues into simple concepts. While there is plenty of attention paid to SSR, Krashen also unpacks the importance of access to text as essential to reading efficacy. He tackles Accelerated Reader.

Give this as a gift to any children's or teen librarian you know.
Profile Image for E.A..
101 reviews
February 29, 2020
Note: if you're thinking of reading this, make sure to get the second edition. I inadvertently ended up with the first edition and since this book is all about summarising research the first edition is a bit outdated.

It's a fairly quick read that gives a nice overview of the arguments in favour of ample room for individual sustained reading in language education.

Early on I worried that Krashen was suggesting doing away with most instruction, working from the complexity hypothesis, that says many aspects of vocabulary and grammar are too complex to be taught and so can only be acquired from lots of input. (Later on he does present a more nuanced view on instruction.) As Mark Seidenberg demonstrates beautifully in Language at the Speed of Sight, we now know it's more complex than that: yes input is so very very important so read as much as possible but since language learning is statistical, instruction can provide an important boost to the learner's mental statistical database. (Seidenberg also thoroughly debunks the 'whole language' approach to teaching reading that Krashen cites at some point.)

There is a nice section on 'light reading' that argues such reading is an important conduit into a reading habit. Readers of comics, teen romances etc. are likely to move on to a broader diet of texts after a prolonged period of such 'narrow reading' that has importantly created strong reading motivation. As such teachers should embrace such material too and make sure they provide it.
Profile Image for Lisa.
128 reviews
February 23, 2023
A little dated, but a useful summary of the research behind in-school free reading programs. Provides some data to accompany what educators like Penny Kittle and Pernille Ripp and Kelly Gallagher know from hands-on experience with students: Volume reading and student-choice reading are not "fluff" in the curriculum, they are the heart of the curriculum. Readers read better AND write better. Krashen digs into the research to arm us with the stats to back what we instinctively know.
12 reviews2 followers
January 3, 2021
Straight up report in research. Great for teachers who need to pull this out for parents and frustratingly point at the positivities of free reading and comic books!
Profile Image for Dana Berglund.
1,052 reviews12 followers
August 8, 2010
Very good, fast read that summarizes some of the research on reading, especially free voluntary reading (rather than reading instruction). Krashen is a prolific researcher, and often has his own research (or that of his grad students, I would assume) to back up his points. I read the second edition, from 2004, and would like to see it updated further still. The research on comic books and on television viewing all seem dated to me; few studies more recent than 1995 seem to have been cited. Overall, though, a good book to remind us educators that READING IS IMPORTANT (duh).
Profile Image for Robin.
2,093 reviews23 followers
March 14, 2008
Well, the specific reason that I requested this title from another library was to read the section on the importance of pleasure reading, specifically the use of comic books to "hook" young people into reading. So I've only read a small section of the book so far but what I've read, I like.

The section on reading comics is as good as I hoped it would be. Krashen has some interesting connections to make for readers and those who are encouraging young people to read.
Profile Image for Jared Reck.
Author 3 books207 followers
May 7, 2012
Krashen's work--especially this book--is consistently cited by Gallagher, Atwell, Schmoker, Alfie Kohn, and others. I thought it was time to read the book they all kept citing--loaded with interesting research studies done over the past century on benefits of free voluntary reading over traditional reading instruction.
58 reviews
May 26, 2013
I bought this for my middle school library professional collection after reading it for a class. Though the research citations do detract from the enjoyment of reading it, I can move past them to the heart of the book. I will be pushing for Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) time in our Language Arts classes.
Profile Image for Jared.
32 reviews3 followers
December 20, 2008
This book is mind-blowing and I'm only part way through it. I wish my teachers knew about this stuff when I was in school: free voluntary reading is the best thing for growing children into thinking and literate adults.
213 reviews20 followers
August 4, 2011
Yeah, baby -- free voluntary reading !! (aka, FVR!!). (Seriously, tho, required reading for anyone seriously interested in literacy and 'the problem of literacy.' This is an authority -- all the research, succinct, and pointed. For everyone else.....whatever ;-) ).
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,408 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2012
Krashen is the free voluntary reading maverick, and this book lays out the research and makes his case. I like the take-aways in bullets in the margins: good for busy professionals who need research-based talking points.
Profile Image for Pashew Majeed.
78 reviews13 followers
November 12, 2014
I had read the second edition as an ebook but after a while ordered for the first edition in paper, which is the current one. It is a very useful resources for literacy educators and language teachers in the realization of the power that recreational reading has.
Profile Image for Ariel.
75 reviews
April 27, 2009
I also read this for my thesis as an undergrad. It was my first introduction to research on literacy. I'd love to read more books like this.
Profile Image for Jill G..
443 reviews54 followers
July 26, 2009
So I read this for a class and found it amazingly awesome because it backs up everything I want to do with my life.
Profile Image for Barbara Lovejoy.
2,073 reviews25 followers
March 2, 2011
I had read the earlier edition of this book years ago and LOVED it. This newer edition is great, too. It is definitely a book that will influence the literacy program at our charter school.
Profile Image for Laura.
447 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2011
A great book for anyone wanting to address the literacy problem. I would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Taylor Troncin.
686 reviews6 followers
December 28, 2015
Lots of interesting thoughts/ideas! I have to pick five quotes for the class that I am enrolled in.... How can I only pick five?!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 91 reviews

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